Inter Milan head coach Antonio Conte appears to hope that an influx of talent from the English Premier League will reignite his team's bid to unseat Juventus as champions of Italy's Serie A for the first time since 2011. Conte signed three players from English teams in the January transfer window, to go with the two he acquired over the summer, as Goal.com reported.
The latest, former Tottenham Hotspur attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen, is set to make his Serie A debut on Sunday, when his new club faces 15th-place Udinese Calcio on the road, absolutely requiring the full three points in the match that will be nationally televised in the United States.
After three consecutive 1-1 league draws, Inter have dropped into third place on the Serie A table, a point behind SS Lazio and six points off the pace set by Juventus, who are quickly appearing to be a good bet to take their ninth straight scudetto.
But the arrival of Eriksen, following the signing of Manchester United veteran Ashley Young and a loan deal that brought Chelsea's Victor Moses to the San Siro, could provide the fire that the Nerazzurri will need to catch the leaders. A 2-1 elimination of Fiorentina in Coppa Italia play at midweek gave at least something of a glimpse at what Conte hopes his new players will bring to the side.
The three new Premier League acquisitions join former Man United forwards Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez in the 2019 summer transfer window. And oddsmakers appear to believe that the signings will help, at least against Udinese on Sunday. According to odds published by 101 Great Goals, Inter are heavy favorites at 4/5, while underdog Udinese would bring a healthy payoff with the upset, at 15/4 to win at home.
After a three-match Serie A winning streak, Udinese have now lost two in a row, including last weekend's 2-0 defeat to Parma. But with a spirited 3-2 defeat against AC Milan on January 19, that was decided only by a stoppage time goal from Croatian Ante Rebic, Udinese Coach Luca Gotti sees the clash against Inter as a chance for his own team to rekindle its fire, according to Sempre Inter.
"We're going to face a top-level opponent, and this must help us to put 100 percent of our motivation on the pitch," the Udinese boss said on Saturday. "Matches like this can ignite the spark."
The Udinese Calcio vs. Inter Milan match kicks off at 8:45 p.m. local time at Dacia Arena in Udine, Italy. In the U.S., where ESPNews will televise the game nationwide, the match gets underway at 2:45 p.m. EST, 11:45 a.m. on the west coast.